NCGA this week submitted comments to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regarding proposed guidance for operators of farm vehicles and off-road agricultural equipment. NCGA President Bart Schott identified several areas of concern that could impact growers, including whether grain being transported from the farm to the local elevator should be defined as “interstate commerce.”
“When it comes to the shipment of agricultural commodities, in most cases corn growers do not know the eventual destination of their crop, its ultimate use and whether portions might leave the state after being mixed with grain from other farmers,” Schott said. “If a broad definition of ‘interstate commerce’ is used, growers could be forced to obtain commercial drivers licenses for hauling their crop even short distances within state boundaries.”
Schott added that farmers transporting grain under a share-crop agreement should not be treated as for-hire carriers. NCGA fears the guidance would discriminate against growers who enter into these agreements as an alternative to cash rent. Schott also noted in his letter that NCGA would oppose any efforts to classify farming equipment such as tractors, combines and plows as commercial motor vehicles. NCGA is in favor of states establishing their own definitions, since agriculture operations vary significantly throughout the country.
“Highway safety is an importanct concern to NCGA’s members and the entire agriculture community,” Schott said. “However, we believe safe roads can be achieved without over-regulating the transport of grain and farm equipment.”